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5 Life Lessons I Learned in My First Year as an Entrepreneur




Five years ago, if someone had told me I would start my own business, I would have laughed. Hard. Like tears streaming down my face laughing. But God had other plans. And after three years of arguing with him that he had me confused with a woman in Minnesota - here we are. With my first successful (by my definition) year in business under my belt. #WhoKnew #GodKnew


Has it been easy? Nope. Has it been fun? Most days. Have I learned anything? Oh boy…so much. The last year has been an amazing journey filled with challenges, triumphs, failures (let’s be real), and countless opportunities for growth….both personal and professional.


As I look back on my first year in business, I wanted to take a moment to share five key life lessons that have become the pillars of my entrepreneurial journey. The mantras I use to keep me moving forward in my business and my personal goals.


I hope they help you as you walk your journey whether you are a new entrepreneur, a seasoned business owner…or carving your space in the corporate world. They can be applied no matter your title.


1. Don't Judge Your Chapter by Someone Else's Book

In the age of social media and constant connectivity, it's easy to fall into the trap of comparing your journey to others. But everyone has a unique path. And success is a subjective measure. Many wouldn’t think my first year in business was a success. But I didn’t ask them. I used my measure of success.

So instead of comparing your chapter one to someone else's chapter ten, focus on your progress, your milestones, and the lessons you're learning along the way. Embrace your individuality, celebrate your unique journey, and remember that success comes in many forms.


2. Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

Embracing discomfort is a fundamental aspect of personal and professional growth. Whether it's stepping out of your comfort zone to pitch a new idea, asking for a raise, trying a new hobby, networking with industry leaders, or navigating through challenges, getting comfortable with discomfort is a superpower. So put on your damn cape and step into the discomfort zone (DCZ).


You cannot grow in your comfort zone. Who said that? Somebody famous said that and they’re right. So put your big girl panties on and get comfortable living in the discomfort zone. Be prepared to not be perfect (see #3).  But get excited. You’re going to do amazing things in the DCZ. You will learn resilience. You will find out that YOU can do ANYTHING! You are unstoppable in the DCZ. You’ll find me in there at the corner of Imperfection and Growth. Swing by.  Say hi!


3. Embrace Imperfection

Perfectionism. It’s going to be an obstacle on your journey to success. You wait to make a move until you have a perfect plan. You don’t publish a post on your social media until you have it tweaked to perfection. You don’t hit send on that email until you have read it twelve times.


Newsflash: You will never have a perfect plan. The post will be tweaked to death and never be perfect. The email will be old news by the time you hit send. So just do the damn thing. Stop overthinking. Stop looking for perfection. (Do you know how many times I say this to myself every day?)


Embracing imperfection allows for creativity, flexibility, and a more realistic approach. And you get more done. Because you just do the thing. Understand that mistakes are inevitable, but they also present opportunities for learning and improvement. Instead of striving for perfection, focus on progress and the continuous refinement of your strategies. Progress over Perfection! (Yeah…I’m still working on this one. It is a daily process but you’re reading this so I must have hit publish. #Progress)


4. Seek Out Help

Breaking news: You will never know all the things. And you will never have as much experience as those who started before you. Your journey is not a solitary endeavor. Seek guidance, mentorship, and advice from experienced individuals. It will provide invaluable insights and shortcuts to your success. Why not learn from their mistakes so you don’t make them?


Joining communities, attending networking events, and actively seeking out mentors will help you navigate challenges more efficiently. Don't hesitate to ask for help – it's a sign of strength, not weakness. Collaboration trumps competition. Every. Single. Time.

Here is a short list of some of my favorite resources:


Meetup – find local and virtual groups to support your journey. They have groups for entrepreneurs, networking, and every interest and hobby I have been able to think of. Plus it’s free to join!


Polka Dot Powerhouse – I love this organization. Comprised of powerhouse women from around the globe, it has helped me grow professionally and personally. I love their focus on supporting women (and you don’t have to own a business) with no drama! The women in this group are phenomenal and they are doing phenomenal things. While it is not free…it is money well spent. Invest in yourself.


SCORE – while specifically for entrepreneurs they have education, access to mentors, and networking. And almost all their services are FREE.


Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center - again this is specifically for entrepreneurs but they have plenty of free resources including education and mentors. And their Milestone Circles for Women's Business Owners helped me gain clarity and confidence.

 

5. Talk to Yourself Like You Would Your Best Friend

Self-talk plays a crucial role in maintaining a positive mindset during the ups and downs of any journey. Treat yourself with the same kindness, encouragement, and understanding that you would offer to your best friend.  Celebrate your achievements (no matter how small), learn from the setbacks, and cultivate a mindset that fuels your passion and determination.


My first year in business was a transformative period filled with lessons that shaped my entrepreneurial and personal identity. By reframing comparisons, embracing discomfort, accepting imperfections, seeking help, and maintaining positive self-talk, I’ve been able to navigate the challenges of entrepreneurship with resilience and developed a growth mindset. And I’m going to use these lessons to make 2024 EPIC for my business and my personal goals.


I’m excited about what my second year as an entrepreneur will bring. Here's to the ongoing journey of learning, adapting, and building a business that reflects my unique vision and passion. And if I can help you on your journey, please reach out. I am here to support you – no matter what goal you are working to achieve. We’re better together!

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